Creating electronic portfolios or E-portfolios is increasing in popularity as a method to monitor student progress in school. Secondary schools have been using them to organize group test scores anonymously, post videos of class time, share examples of assignments and summarize the learning process. Providing E-portfolios online has made it easier for educators to discuss the effectiveness of techniques with parents as well as other teachers and staff. Teachers and students can use E-portfolios to present examples of their progress in the education environment and maintain privacy in accordance with the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).
Researching an E-portfolio for Teachers
Check out the website of your school. Many schools subscribe to E-portfolio hosting services that offer discount rates for group use. It may be free or inexpensive to use the system already in place at your school. Sharing information with local faculty and staff will also be easier if everyone uses the same service. Some sites have password protection and member-only usage while others may be available for the entire internet to view. Teachers must be aware of student privacy laws according to FERPA and be selective about posted information.2
Look for other E-portfolio-hosting services if your school does not have one already in place. There are many options, so personal choice may have to be a deciding factor. There are free sites and premium paid sites that offer different levels of sharing, file protection and design templates. Google Sites, Webs, Wix,Tumblr, Blogger are all examples that are free to use but some may include advertisements or lack the desired level of privacy. Paid sites like PupilPages, WooThemes, WikiSites, Site2you and BuildYourSite have alternate options, some of which include phone support for questions.3
Register your E-portfolio by following the directions listed on the host site. Every website is different, but most sites have tutorials to lead people through the starting process. Reading the FAQ section of a website also may provide helpful details to start the technical part of setting up an E-portfolio. Privacy laws make it a good idea to password protect your site or change user settings for viewing by specific users only.4
Design your E-portfolio in a clear and professional style. While many pre-formatted templates offer wild colors with swirling texts and jumbled photographs, this is not ideal for a professional format. Choose easy-to-read colors for text and background that show clear contrast such as dark blue for words and off-white for background. Pick a professional font that is clear such as Arial or Helvetica. Avoid playful fonts like Comic Sans and Curlz because they remove seriousness from your page.5
Write an introduction on the home page of the E-portfolio. The home page should explain whom the E-portfolio is about and what types of materials will be found on the site. Explain why you have created the portfolio and how it may be useful as a tool for educating. Many educators will use the home page to write a mission statement or paraphrase their philosophy of education.6
Make digital copies of classroom work with a scanner or digital camera. Some scanners may automatically create files of the work in PDF format for easy downloading and viewing by other users. Digital photographs may have to be converted to PDF using an online file converter or an alternate saving process in your computer's photo-viewing software. Remember to blank out student names to make examples anonymous and maintain the student rights to privacy according to FERPA.7
Upload the classroom work onto the E-portfolio site. Examples of work to include are a class syllabus, pre-tests and exams, projects, assignments or anonymous reviews of student progress. Educators may want to include videos of their teaching, PowerPoint presentations or audio files of lectures. Documents presented in the E-portfolio create the visual representation of the classroom experience. Explain why you chose the document, what it demonstrates about your teaching or why it works as an assignment, teaching method or technique.8
Organize the E-portfolio in a similar way to how physical portfolios would be arranged. A table of contents or labeled tabs with links will make navigating the E-portfolio a clear process. A sidebar menu can contain tabs to allow users to easily navigate from page to page with quick links between posted materials. Research other teacher's portfolio examples and decide what templates work best for your personal organization and presentation style.9
Update the E-portfolio on a regular basis. Weekly or monthly additions will demonstrate changes and mark the progress of students. A current E-portfolio could be used in a job interview to demonstrate organizational skills, discuss problem solving abilities, show creativity in projects and mark progress as an effective teacher. Some websites allow for viewers to leave commentary that would allow teachers to share information about effectiveness of teaching styles, techniques and ideas.10
Share the E-portfolio with peers for evaluation. Faculty or parents can offer insight and constructive feedback about materials that could be included. An E-portfolio is supposed to demonstrate the effectiveness of classroom instruction for others, so it is beneficial to seek the input of the audience and professionals. Students also may be able to provide useful feedback in surveys about assignment and project effectiveness.
Researching an E-portfolio for Students
Follow the planning and design procedures of teachers as students. Students may want to create an E-portfolio for future reference, to showcase their progress as learners, to present a serious commitment to their studies when applying for extra curricular activities or for fun.12
Choose examples of your work that demonstrates your skills or shows your progress over time. Upload documents such as your assignments, tests or projects that you completed and are proud to share. Awards, honors or extracurricular work could also be posted. Having a permanent online portfolio will help you to review covered material, discuss your accomplishments and share you experiences with classmates or teachers.13
Promote yourself by personalizing your portfolio with your thoughts about your work. Explain why you chose the projects and assignments for display. Blog about what time in the classroom has taught you and what you hope to learn in the future. Write comments about what you would have done differently or about how you are trying to accomplish your goals.14
Share your work with teachers, classmates or family. Educators will understand your knowledge and capabilities better and be able to tailor their teaching styles to you. Classmates may benefit from your work and be able to learn more from your sharing. Family can be proud of your accomplishments and have an understanding of your classroom experiences.15
Update your page regularly to show your growing skills and monitor your progress.The purpose of an E-portfolio is to demonstrate accomplishments as an individual. A current and well-organized portfolio could be used to apply for internships, summer camps or even jobs.